Second walkout in five days could mean US troubleshooter loses £10m payment for finishing by 2000.
Bechtel, the US troubleshooter drafted in to ensure that the Jubilee Line Extension hits its millennium deadline, is in danger of losing its £10m bonus following more industrial action by electricians.

Unofficial strike action halted work on the Tube line on Monday as electricians walked off the project for the second time in five days. The one-day stoppage the previous Thursday followed a safety scare at Westminster Station.

Monday’s walkout happened after electricians discovered that operatives employed by a civils contractor, an Aoki-Soletanche joint venture at Southwark Station, had been carrying out work that was part of Drake & Scull’s contract.

The situation was resolved later the same day and electricians returned to work on Tuesday.

Bechtel’s £10m bonus, to be awarded if the line is finished by 2000, is in addition to its £13m fee for managing the project.

A London Underground insider said: “There is a school of thought that says now the dome link from central London is guaranteed, with services from Waterloo, there is no big rush this side of the millennium to complete the final phase.”

Bechtel was unavailable for comment. However, a JLE source said Westminster would meet its deadline of late autumn. “Everyone working there is earning well, and even allowing for the latest stoppages, there shouldn’t be any delays to the finishing schedule,” he said.

In a final push to complete the line, M&E contractor Drake & Scull has postponed until mid-November a series of redundancies scheduled for this month.

The action came as electricians’ union the AEEU sent ballot papers to more than 18 000 members, who will vote on a pay deal agreed between employers and the union.

Union officials spent most of last week lobbying electricians to accept the deal, which guarantees them a 28% pay increase over two years, but reduces the travel allowances traditionally paid to electricians.

AEEU national officer Paul Corby said: “It’s up to the membership now. This deal involves new money above the rate of inflation and I can tell electricians there is no better offer coming from employers.”

Corby hit back at the London electricians, who have staged a series of wildcat strikes in protest at the deal and have stopped work on high-profile London projects including the Millennium Dome, Royal Opera House and JLE.

He said: “It’s outrageous some of the things that electricians working on projects like the JLE have said about the union. The JLE electricians have had good representation from this union.

“The strike action has made negotiating this deal harder as employers asked why they should negotiate with us while all this [unofficial strike action] is going on. It’s been a complex negotiation.”

Corby added that strikers had broken an agreement not to take unofficial action to resolve disputes.